Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Poots speaks Irish as he blasts Sinn Fein 'recklessness' on language Act

By Allan Preston

DUP MLA Edwin Poots has spoken Irish in a speech attacking Sinn Fein's push for a language Act.

Mr Poots made his comments last night at the MacGill summer school in Glenties, Co Donegal.

Every July the school hosts a week of debates for political, business and Church leaders from both sides of the border.

The introduction of an Irish Language Act remains one of Sinn Fein's key demands in talks to restore power-sharing at Stormont. It's one of the sticking points between the party and the DUP.

Mr Poots said he believed Sinn Fein wanted to use it to impose an Irish national identity in Northern Ireland.

Urging Sinn Fein to adopt a more "realistic" approach, he concluded his speech with the phrase: "Maireann an chraobh ar an bhfal ach ni mhaireann an lamh do chuir."

He then said: "Forgive my broken Irish, but for those of you who, like me, are not fluent, it translates to 'The branch lives on the hedge though the hand that planted it be dead'.

"It's an old Irish saying reminding us of our mortality and that our actions today will live long after we are gone.

"Anyone who speaks and loves the Irish language is as much a part of Northern Ireland life as a collarette-wearing Orangeman."

But he called Sinn Fein "reckless" for putting an Act above setting a budget, health reform and Brexit planning.

Mr Poots said the republican party's real intention was to develop an Irish identity using bilingual road signs, a public sector quota for Irish language speakers and an Irish language commissioner with powers to sanction public authorities.

The DUP's most high-profile brush with the Irish language thus far was Gregory Campbell's "Curry my yoghurt" moment - used during a 2014 Assembly debate to mock the Irish phrase "Go raibh maith agat", meaning "thank you".

In April this year DUP leader Arlene Foster also said thank you in Irish during a visit to a school.

Earlier this month Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd dismissed suggestions his party was seeking cultural supremacy as "absolutely ridiculous", arguing the only agenda was securing equal rights.

Belfast Telegraph


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